An electroactive biofilm is a porous layer of bacteria covering an electrode, which plays an important role in bioelectrochemical systems, such as in the microbial fuel cell. We derive a dynamic model of ion transport, biochemical reactions, and electron transport inside such a biofilm. After validating the model against data, we evaluate model output to obtain an understanding of the transport of ions and electrons through a current-producing biofilm. For a system fed with a typical wastewater stream containing organic molecules and producing 5 A m−2, our model predicts that transport of the organic molecules is not a limiting factor. However, the pH deep within the biofilm drops significantly, which can inhibit current production of such biofilms. Our results suggest that the electronic conductivity of the biofilm does not limit charge transport significantly, even for a biofilm as thick as 100 μm. Our study provides an example of how physics-based modeling helps to understand complex coupled processes in bioelectrochemical systems.
De Lichtervelde, A. C. L., Ter Heijne, A., Hamelers, H. V. M., Biesheuvel, P. M., & Dykstra, J. E. (2019). Theory of Ion and Electron Transport Coupled with Biochemical Conversions in an Electroactive Biofilm. Physical Review Applied, 12(1), . https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevApplied.12.014018